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Afterthoughts: IT Pro Camp Orlando 2012

This past Saturday January 21, 2012 I had the opportunity to speak at my first IT Pro Camp in Orlando, FL. This event was put together by Blain Barton ( Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter ), Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist and Chad Miller ( Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter ), Microsfot MVP and Senior Manager of Database Administration at Raymond James Financial.

Event

The event went very smooth and had a good turnaout. Food was amazing. They reallly outdid themselves with good old southern BBQ.

Presentation

I presented a session titled Introduction to Microsoft Business Intelligence (Slides), focusing on the basic concepts of BI and Datawarehousing, the Microsoft toolset and my Top 5 Rules of Wisdom for succesful BI. I had a great turnaout, about 25 attendees. All of the attendees were very engaged and asked excellent questions. I enjoyed presenting to the Orlando crowd.

Picture credits: Russel Faustino. See more pictures of the event here.

Other IT Pro Camps are being added. Check the IT Pro Camp website here to keep up to date.

Click on the picture below to download my Intorduction to Business Intelligence powerpoint presentation.

 

 

SQL Saturday 86 BI Edition Tampa 2011: Afterthoughts

Wow! Just Wow! That’s all I can say to describe how great SQL Saturday 86 was on November 5th in Tampa, FL . I got so much positive feedback from every attendee, speaker and sponsor. Food was great, sessions were amazing, speakers were first class!  I have to say thanks to everyone for attending, speaking, sponsoring and helping out with these great event put together by the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence User Group officers and volunteers.

Organizing Committee & Volunteers

I cannot take personal credit for this event. It was truly a team effort. Somewhere I read that in order to be successful you need to surround yourself with talented & driven individuals that are committed to your same goals. Maybe I’m paraphrasing or simply making that up, but this has proven to work with running our local Tampa Bay Business Intelligence User Group and the SQL Saturday #86 BI Edition event.

The organizing committee was made up by:

The volunteers that participated in our event included:

  • Randy Borys
  • Gloria Salcedo
  • Chris Richardson
  • William Sanders
  • Pam Shaw
  • Richard Pyra
  • Wes Helton
  • Tom Totten
  • Denis Desault
  • David Greim
  • Lena Pavlyuk
  • Lyn Taylor

Speakers

Our speakers were world class speakers to say the least. The speaker roster included Microsoft MVPs, field engineers and evangelists and other professionals that committed their time and paid for their own travel to support our event. We had just a few speakers that cancelled for personal, health or work-related conflicts. We still want to express our appreciation to them for willing to support our event as well. Thankfully, we managed to secure alternate speakers who did a great job even though it was last minute. Thank your SQL Saturday #86 Speakers!

Sponsors

Our sponsors made our event a quality and epic event by sponsoring with cash, items and swag to giveaway. Thanks to them we were able to sponsor great Cuban food from LATAM restaurant, coffee and donuts throughout the day, swag and raffle prizes and provide our speakers with a thank you dinner.

  • KForce provided their facilities for our event.
  • Convergence Consulting Group (Twitter | Website) did an amazing job with our speaker and event organizers’ shirts.
  • Quest Software (Twitter | Website) raffled an iPad and a $100 Amazon gift card.
  • Redgate Software (Twitter | Website) offered a great variety of books to give away.
  • Pragmatic Works offered a free training voucher for any of their online classes.
  • LaSalle Computer Learning School offered a training voucher for any of their in-person SQL Server certification classes.
  • Fusion-IO raffled an iPad.
  • Idera raffled one their SQL Serve monitoring software suites and gift cards.
  • Soaring Eagle, ElSavier and Wrox each provided SQL Server and Business Intelligence books to raffle.

To all our sponsors thank you for supporting our SQL Server and Business Intelligence Community!

Panel of Experts

In this event I decided to put together a panel of experts to discuss several topics relating to SQL Server and Business Intelligence as well as a discussion of what’s new in the upcoming release of SQL Server 2012. The Panel of Experts took place at LATAM restaurant right after lunch. Our panel of experts included:

We invited our sponsors to briefly talk about their products and services and prizes they were giving away during the event. Following our sponsors I decided to recognize Andy Warren, MVP and PASS (Website) Board of Directors, for his contributions to the SQL Server community, SQL Saturday creation and 100 SQL Saturday milestone.

BI BootCamp pre-conference

Along with our free SQL Saturday #86 event we hosted a paid pre-conference titled “BI BootCamp” presented by SQL Server MVP and SSAS Maestro Instructor Adam Jorgensen. We exceeded our goal with 33 attendees paid attendees, all of which gave very positive feedback of Adam’s presentation. I did a star appearance, helping Adam present a section on SSRS Reports using OLAP cubes as a source.

Thanks to Mike Wells for (Twitter | LinkedIn | Blog) for taking pictures throughout the event. You can see more event pictures at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/116314811362928917852/SQLSat86

SQL Server Codename “Denali” CTP3 Resources

SQL Server codename “Denali” CTP3 has been released to the public after much anticipation. You may ask yourself, “What happened to CTP2?” The answer is simple. It was a private build for MVPs and some Microsoft partners. By private, I mean it was not released to the general public. The good news is that you did not miss much in CTP2. A lot of areas were incomplete or not working. But that is to be expected as it is a work in progress.

This blog post will serve as a means to gather resources such as links and blog posts regarding SQL Server “Denali” CTP3. Check back soon as I will be adding new resources. If you have a blog post about SQL Server Denali CTP3 please pingback or email me to add it to the list.

Downloads:

SQL Server DENALI CTP3 Demo VHD
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=27253

A HyperV image of SQL Server Denali CTP3 in action, including fully configured services and integration with SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010
The following software is configured on the virtual machine:

  • SQL Server “Denali” CTP3
  • SharePoint 2010
  • Office 2010

SQL Server codename “Denali” Community Technology Preview 3 CTP3
https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/pd/SQLDCTP3CTA/enus/default.aspx

SQL Server code name “Denali” Express Core Community Technology Preview 3 (CTP 3)
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26784

SQL Server code name ‘Denali’ Community Technology Preview 3 (CTP 3) Feature Pack
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=26726

The SQL Server  code name “Denali” CTP 3 Feature Pack is a collection of stand-alone packages which provide additional value for Microsoft® SQL Server® code name ‘Denali’ CTP 3. It includes the latest versions of  tool and components an add-on providers.

Includes:

  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Master Data Service Add-in for Excel CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Semantic Language Statistics CTP 3
  • SQL ServerReport Builder for SQL Servercode name “Denali” CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” PowerPivot for  Excel CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Reporting Services Add-in for  SharePoin Technologies
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Data-Tier Application Framework CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Transact-SQL Language Service CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Transact-SQL ScriptDom CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Transact-SQL Compiler Service CTP 3
  • SQL ServerCompact 4.0
  • SQL ServerCompact 4.0 Books On-line
  • SQL ServerJDBC Driver 4.0 Community Technology 2 (CTP 2)
  • Connector 1.1 for SAP BW for SQL Server code name “Denali” CTP 3
  • System CLR Types for SQL Server code name “Denali” CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Remote Blob Store CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Books On-line CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Upgrade Advisor CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Native Client CTP 3
  • OLEDB Provider for DB2 v4.0 for SQL Server code name “Denali” CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Command Line Utilities CTP 3
  • SQL ServerService Broker External Activator for SQL Server code name “Denali” CTP 3
  • Windows PowerShell Extensions for SQL Server code name “Denali” CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Shared Management Objects CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” ADOMD.NET CTP 3
  • Analysis Services OLE DB Provider for SQL Servercode name “Denali” CTP 3
  • SQL Servercode name “Denali” Analysis Management Objects CTP 3
  • SQL ServerDriver for PHP 2.0
  • SQL ServerMigration Assistant
    1. Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for Access
    2. Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for MySQL
    3. Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for Oracle
    4. Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for Sybase
    5.  Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant 2008 for Sybase PowerBuilder Applications
  • SQL ServerStreamInsight v1.2

Adventure Works sample databases for SQL Server codename Denali CTP3
http://msftdbprodsamples.codeplex.com/releases/view/55330

Denali CTP3 Adventure Works Sample Databases Readme
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/sql-server-samples-readme.aspx

Includes:

  • AdventureWorks2008R2 Data File
  • AdventureWorksDWDenali Data File
  • SSAS Multidimensional Model Projects Denali CTP3
  • SSAS Tabular Model Projects Denali CTP3
  • SSAS AMO2Tabular Denali CTP3

Don’t forget to read the sample databases readme file:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/sql-server-samples-readme.aspx

Tutorials

Tutorials for SQL Server “Denali”
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh231699(v=sql.110).aspx

Includes:

  • Multidimensional Modeling (Adventure Works Tutorial)
  • Tabular Modeling (Adventure Works Tutorial)
  • Tutorial for Project Crescent

Blogs / Wikis:

Microsoft SQL Server Code-Named “Denali” CTP3 Release Notes
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/3711.aspx

SQL Server Team: SQL Server Code Name “Denali” CTP3 and SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 are HERE!
http://blogs.technet.com/b/dataplatforminsider/archive/2011/07/11/sql-server-code-name-denali-ctp3-is-here.aspx

SSIS Team Blog: Matt Mason – What’s new in SQL Server Denali?
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/mattm/archive/2011/07/12/ssis-what-s-new-in-sql-server-denali.aspx

SQL Server Reporting Services Team Blog: Thierry Dhers – SQL Server codename “Denali” CTP3, including Project “Crescent” is now publically available
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlrsteamblog/archive/2011/07/12/sql-server-codename-quot-denali-quot-ctp3-including-project-quot-crescent-quot-is-now-publically-available.aspx

What’s New in Master Data Services (MDS) in Denali CTP3
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/3714.aspx

Marco Russo: Installing Analysis Services ssas #Denali CTP3 and PowerPivot Denali CTP3
http://sqlblog.com/blogs/marco_russo/archive/2011/07/13/installing-analysis-services-ssas-denali-ctp3-and-powerpivot-denali-ctp3.aspx

Brent Ozar: CTP3 is Here! Five Things to Know About the Next Version of SQL Server
http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2011/07/five-things-sql-server-denali-ctp3/

Jamie Thompson: SSIS enhancements in Denali CTP3
http://www2.sqlblog.com/blogs/jamie_thomson/archive/2011/07/12/ssis-enhancements-in-denali-ctp3.aspx

MSDN SQL Server (Pre-release) forum threads
http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/category/sqlserverprerelease

SQL Server “Deanali” Books Online (BOL)
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms130214(SQL.110).aspx

Technet Wiki: Project Crescent Overview
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/project-crescent-overview.aspx

Update Log:
7/26/2011 Added Denali CTP3 Adventure Works Sample Databases Readme link

9/25/2011 Added SQL Server DENALI CTP3 Demo VHD download link and description and Technet Wiki Project Crescent overview.

Afterthoughts: SharePoint Saturday Tampa 2011

This past Saturday June 11th, 2011 I had the opportunity to co-present at SharePoint Saturday Tampa thanks to a special invitation by its main organizer Michael Hinckley (Twitter|Blog|LinkedIn). It was a great experience and a very well-organized event. I met several SharePoint professionals I follow on Twitter for the first time and learned more about them and others in the industry that are in a few words, Rockstars!

Speaker Dinner & Event Networking
As a speaker, I was invited to attend the speaker dinner at Donatello Restaurant (website) on Friday evening June 10th.  The place was a great choice as we had the lounge & bar area mostly for ourselves. Food was excellent. At the dinner party I had the opportunity to connect with several friends from the area, some which I had not seen personally for a while such as

Michael Antonovich  (Blog|Twitter|LinekdIn),
Assistant Director of Web Services at Orange County Public Schools

Landon Bass (Blog|LinkedIn),
Systems Engineer III – SharePoint Engineer at Raymond James

Chad Miller (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Sr Manager Database Administration at Raymond James

I also met some other cool guys like

Chris Schwab’s (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Sharepoint & PowerShell guru

David McNamee (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
SharePoint Technology Specialist at Microsoft

Michael Oryszak (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn)
Practice Manager at Intellinet, SharePoint Server MVP, MCITP

Marc D. Anderson (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn),
Co-Founder and President at Sympraxis Consulting LLC

The Presentation
Michael Hinckley and I co-presented “Extending Business Intelligence Solutions with SharePoint 2010,” in which we did an overview of what SharePoint 2010 has to offer for Business Intelligence. Michael did a great job doing an overview of SharePoint 2010 covering deployment considerations, licensing and edition comparisons. I then proceeded to do quick overview of Business Intelligence, what it is and what it is not. The audience was very engaged and we spent at least 10 minutes discussing the BI self-delivery model and the governance necessary around it to ensure the “single version of the truth.”

Click here or on image above to download the presenation

David McNamee from Microsoft attended the presentation and contributed to the discussion regarding governance and the self-delivery model. He made a statement that resonated a lot with me as an IT professional regarding these politics and battles between IT and the business:

..if IT and the Business don’t talk and collaborate and the business does not consider IT as a strategic partner, then I’m in the wrong organization.

This is very true and agree 100% with David. As a matter of fact, a big reason why I left a past employer was because of these unhealthy politics.

At the end  of the presentation I showcased Excel Services, Performance Point Services and one of the coolest features in SharePoint 2010 Decomposition Trees. We got great feedback and hopefully Michael and I have an opportunity to co-present again at other events. I felt Michael and I had a good synergy co-presenting (even with no rehearsal).

This may be a taste of things to come between the synergy the Tampa Bay Business Intelligence User Group and the Tampa Bay SharePoint User Group.

 The Sessions I attended
I attended just a couple of sessions as I spent most of my time networking with attendees, speakers and sponsors and promoting our own upcoming SQL Saturday #86 BI Edition on November 5th.

While I am not a SharePoint Developer (yet), I really enjoyed Marc D. Anderson’s presentation “Developing in SharePoint’s Middle Tier.” I learned about his awesome SPServices jQuery library publicly available at Codeplex (http://spservices.codeplex.com/) and also about his SharePoint XSL templates also available at Codeplex (http://spxslt.codeplex.com). Through his jQuery library and XSL templates you can easily customize the user experience of SharePoint forms like cascading dropdown menus, selectable textbox word hints, real-time data validation and much more. Really cool stuff.

During lunch time I attended a session / discussion by Kathy Malone (Meetup) and Blain Barton (Blog|LinkedIn) titled “Building Social Media Communities; How SharePoint Fits In.” This was an interesting discussion as it involved one of my favorite topics: Social Media. We discussed Twitter and how it can help startups and technical communities. I added my two cents ($0.02) and explained how great the #sqlhelp hashtag helps a lot of SQL Professionals with immediate answers from experts around the world. We discussed that for SharePoint there is #sphelp available. I was able to walk away with a signed copy of “Office and SharePoint 2010 User’s Guide” authored by my good friend Michael Antonovich. You can buy his book here.

Another great session I attended was presented by Ryan Morgan (Blog|Twitter|LinkedIn) titled “Silverlight Dashboards in SharePoint 2010.” I have not developed anything at all with Silverlight but was interested to learn how complex or easy it was to create custom dashboards in SharePoint 2010 with Silverlight. It turned out it was very simple, or at list Ryan was very effective at simplifying things that even a Silverlight newb like me understood it. I also learned how easy it is to query SharePoint lists using the API’s available using jQuery and LINQ. Very cool stuff.

I look forward to speaking and attending another SharePoint Saturday. There is so much to learn from the experts that speak at this event that I can apply on my line of work which is Business Intelligence. As Michael Hinckley and I have discussed, there is so much overlap between SharePoint 2010, SQL Server and Business Intelligence and the fact that Microsoft is focusing its efforts to make SharePoint the preferred enterprise information management platform, that SQL/BI and SharePoint folks need to engage more and more.

SSIS Foreach File Enumerator returns more files than expected by appending a wildcard (*) to the file mask

While working on a recent project for a customer that involved importing both Excel 97-2003 and Excel 2007/2010 files, I was a little surprised to discover that the Foreach Loop File Enumerator will return both *.xls and *.xlsx files even if you only specify to return *.xls files.

I tested this behaviour with similar results with other file formats as well. During my testing, I created three files:

  1. File_txt.txt
  2. File_txts.txts
  3. File_txtsy.txtsy

See the screenshot of the three test files created below:

Next, I created an SSIS Package with a Foreach Loop Container with Foreach File Enumerator as the enumerator type and  specified *.txt as the file mask. The file names read by the Foreach Loop Container are being assigned to a user variable called varFileName. Then, inside the Foreach Loop Container I added a simple VB Script Task that returns the value of the user variable varFileName inside a message box.

See the Foreach Loop Containter configurations below:

See the VB script inside the Script Task below: 

You would expect only file_txt.txt to be returned, but as it turns out all three files were returned as can bee seen on the screen captures for the message boxes below:

It looks like the Foreach File Enumerator appends an asterisk (*) at the end of the extension portion of the file mask you specify. This means, that specifying *.txt or *.xls is the same as specifying *.txt* or *.xls*. As an additional test, I executed the <dir> command in D.O.S. to see the results of both masks. The two commands executed are shown below along with the results:

Interestingly, we get the same result in D.O.S. if we specify *.txt or *.txt*. I assume then, that the Foreach Loop file enumeration behaviour may be bound to the D.O.S. output of the Operating System. The current version of D.O.S. on my Windows 7 machine is 6.1.7600. With the introduction of support for more than three letter extensions, this little issue might have been overlooked in D.O.S. for the <dir> command.

The only reference I found regarding this issue with SSIS and the For Each Loop Container was by Douglas Laudenschlager (Blog), technical writer for Microsoft on the SQL Server Integration Services documentation team. The blog post where he mentions this as a gotcha can be found here: http://dougbert.com/blogs/dougbert/archive/2008/06/16/excel-in-integration-services-part-1-of-3-connections-and-components.aspx

Douglas correctly expresses,

 There appears to be no way to specify, “Give me .xls but not .xlsx”.

So, if you require to only limit your control flow execution for files with a specific extension, as in Douglas’ example .xls but not .xlsx, then your alternative will be to assign to a separate variable the extension portion of the file name contained in the varFileName variable of my SSIS package above. Once you capture the file extension in a variable, you can use a precedence constraint to restrict further control fow task execution for files of a specific file extension.

In my case, I declared a variable called varFileExtension and added the following line to the existing Script Task in my example:



I can now use a precedence constraint to check if the value contained in my varFileExtension is equal to “txt” as follows:

 By specifying a precedence constraint that evaluates for the exact file extension I’m looking to work with, I can limit the rest of the execution for only these files. Furthermore, if I wanted to have separate control flow logics for files of type “.xls” and “.xlsx” for example, I can split my control flow using two precedence constraints. In such case I could change the code inside my script to include the last 4 characters instead of just three. My two precedence constraint expressions would look something like this then:

  1. For XLS files -> @[User::varFileExtension]==”.xls” (period included since we are assigning the last 4 characters now)
  2. For XLSX files -> @[User::varFileExtension]==”xlsx”

The SSIS package would look something like this now:

 

Differences between Merge and Union All transformations in SSIS

 What are the differences between Merge and Union All transformations in SSIS ?

 The first and most obvious difference is that Merge can only accept two datasets while Union All can accept more than two datasets for input. The second difference is that Merge requires both datasets to be sorted while Union All does not require sorted datasets. Both transformations are considered to be partially-blocking.

As can be seen on the following image, Union All can accept more than two datasets as input while Merge is limited to only two input datasets. Also, notice that for the Merge transformation, the datasets need to be sorted before they can be accepted as valid input.

For simplification purposes,  a Sort transformation was used. Keep in mind that the Sort transformation is a full blocking operation because it needs to read all the rows in the data flow (buffer) in order to sort the data. No data will be sent downstream until all rows have been read first by the Sort transformation. A better approach would be to sort the datasets with an ORDER BY T-SQL clause at the data source component.

500th Twitter follower spotlight: Joshua Luedeman

It is hard sometimes to take the time to acknowledge our Twitter followers and spend time getting to know them. I decided to change that a little bit and go beyond the 140 character limit and do a video conference spotlight on whomever became follower number 500th.

Recently, I reached my 500th follower on Twitter. The lucky tweep was Joshua Luedeman aka @BigDadyLueda, a DBA/Business Intelligence Developer from Tallahassee, FL. I asked Joshua to do a recorded video conference via Skype and answer a couple of questions to get to know him better and introduce him to the rest of the community.

It turned out Joshua is a very smart guy from upstate New York who recently moved to Florida with his family. Joshua and I share several things in common:

  • Proud father of two girls
  • Husband in love with his beautiful wife
  • Passionate about SQL Server and Business Intelligence
  • Recently moved to Florida
  • Recently re-focused his career in Business Intelligence
  • Looks up to @SQLChicken (Jorge Segarra) and his SQL University initiative
  • Reads SQL Server Books on Line and related blog posts
  • Desires to become more active in the SQL Server, Business Intelligence, SQL PASS  community by blogging and speaking

It was truly a pleasure and honor to get to know him in more than 140 characters. Here is the recording of our video conference:

 

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